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Preparing for the summer storm and fire season


Posted on January 19, 2018

3 min read

We’re continually investing in the strength and resilience of our network, but customers need to be aware of the impact extreme weather can have on our services.

We understand how important staying connected is for our customers, particularly during times of emergency.

That’s why, if a natural disaster does strike during summer, we have detailed plans in place tailored to specific emergency threats including cyclones, floods, bushfires and extreme heat related events.

We have a specially trained and dedicated field workforce located all around the country. Our field staff do some particularly amazing work during times of emergency, when they are usually first on the ground into disaster zones after emergency services have declared the area safe to enter.

We can bring in additional techs from across the country to assist with repairing our infrastructure and restoring customer services after a significant weather event.

We have a range of temporary infrastructure, such as mobile COWs (Cell on Wheels), ready to move to the areas where they are needed the most. Also, our field teams are now using drones to inspect our network infrastructure and provide rapid assessments of any damage post-disaster striking, to help us assess the resultant damage and restore services faster.

Bushfire drone

We have around 40,000 network sites that require power, including data centres, exchanges and mobile base stations. Our sites typically have battery or generators in case of a disruption to energy supplies. This back-up power is designed to provide some protection during local community power loss, but will not support the loss of power for extended periods.

Routine maintenance and testing is performed on the generators and batteries at all our sites to ensure they are in good operational condition. New technology and our investments in building networks for the future have put us in a stronger position to respond to extreme weather and service disruptions.

We have completed upgrades to Telstra’s transmission network with next generation optical transport technology connecting all capital cities, providing increased capacity and flexibility to respond quickly to natural disasters and other events.

Through the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program, we switched on more than 170 base stations and installed more than 120 small cells last year, bringing mobile services to many communities in remote areas for the first time. This benefits everyone as our network will carry an emergency 000 call from any phone, regardless of whether they are a Telstra customer or not.

We have strong relationships with government and the emergency services at many levels and we are proud of the way we all work together when communities need us most. We will always do all we can, but no amount of planning or investment can fully protect us against natural disasters.

There are steps we can all take that will make it easier to stay connected if a natural disaster strikes. Please take the time to check out our customer tips. Try not to rely on any one of these things – make sure you have several options covered to help stay connected.

Mobile phones

Alternative phone charger – If you haven’t already, purchase a phone charger that isn’t dependent on a power outlet. Solar power chargers, in-car chargers and power bank chargers are all reliable options. Make sure you charge your phone and power bank prior to the emergency event occurring.

Back up data – Back up important data, like contact information and photos, to your cloud.

Know your numbers – Compile a list of essential contact numbers to store in your phone and keep them close at hand, including local Police, Fire, SES, family, friends and Telstra’s fixed line fault line – 13 22 03.

Satellite phones – These are usually immune to damaged infrastructure and can operate in remote locations. If communications are critical you could consider a satellite phone.

Fixed-line phones

Have a spare battery – Remember, most modern cordless phones rely on mains electric power to operate, so you may lose the use of your landline during a power outage.

Consider a phone with a battery backup function and keep spare batteries nearby.

Keep a spare plug-in phone handy – Your cordless phone is great, but you may not be able to use it if the power is out.

For our NBN customers – It’s important to remember if your home phone now works through the modem and if there’s a power outage, your phone line will not operate.

Best to have a mobile phone handy, or a satellite phone for those in remote areas.

Social media

Virtual meeting place – Set up an instant messaging group with family and friends. Agree in advance to update each other here during an emergency.

Emergency apps – Download emergency service apps. They will give up to date warnings and incident information issued by official agencies across Australia.

Local information sources – Identify key local agency social media accounts and websites for real time information on what’s happening in your area.

Be alert – Subscribe to text and emails that will alert you to weather changes, road closures and local emergency services updates.

Know your emergency broadcaster – Have a battery powered radio with spare batteries to listen to the emergency broadcaster in your area.

During an emergency, customers can monitor our Service Status page to help keep up to date on outages and restoration activities.